Employers have been given just over one month’s notice of new regulations that will require them to advertise skilled vacancies through JobCentre Plus, before seeking candidates from outside the EU.
The government’s change to migrant workers regulations will deny employers the right to hire migrant workers from 1 April unless the role has already been advertised through JobCentre Plus for a minimum of two weeks, in an attempt to protect ‘British jobs for British workers’.
The change will only affect the hiring of tier 2 workers under the points-based immigration system introduced last year. Launched in November 2008, tier 2 covers skilled workers, sponsored by an employer to work in the UK.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said that during a downturn it was right to put British workers first. “These measures are not about narrow protectionism. We recognise that migration continues to play an important role in the UK, at the same time as we are giving greater support to domestic workers so that we can all come through the recession stronger”, she said.
Under the new regulations employers will be required to contact JobCentre Plus with details of their vacancies. In return the employer will receive a letter confirming their advert and allowing them to apply for certificates of sponsorship with the UK Borders Agency, enabling them to hire non-EU staff.
Other measures unveiled by the government to protect British jobs include reducing the number of highly skilled migrants from non-EU countries.
In order to enter Britain as a tier 1 migrant worker after April 1, the applicant will now have to possess a master’s as opposed to a bachelor degree, and should be on a salary of £20,000 a year or more, rather than £17,000.
The Home Office predicts that by raising the qualification and salary requirements the number of non-EU highly skilled workers entering Britain could be halved to 14,000 next year.
The government is also preparing to use ‘shortage occupation lists’ to trigger skills reviews with a focus on up-skilling British workers to fill vacancies.
Jacqui Smith added: “Just as in a growth period we needed migrants to support growth, it is right in a downturn to be more selective about the skill levels of those migrants, and to do more to put British workers first.”